| FIFTEEN years ago this month The
Department of National Defence set up a Unit of the Royal
Canadian Navy to be known as the Royal Canadian Naval
Volunteer Reserve. Administered by the Naval Service of
Canada, headed by the Chief of Naval Staff at Ottawa,
the Unit was modelled after a similar organization in
the British Isles known as the Royal Naval Volunteer Reserve.
In Canada, Divisions were established in Prince Rupert,
Vancouver, Calgary, Edmonton, Regina. Saskatoon. Winnipeg,
Hamilton, Toronto, Ottawa, Montreal, Quebec, Halifax,
St. John, Charlottetown. Port Arthur was added later.
On April 22, 1923. the Winnipeg Division, under the
command of Commander Eustace Brock, A.D.C., R.C.N.V.R.,
was established. To him fell the task of creating an
interest in this first Naval Unit in the Province of
Manitoba and recruiting the personnel. The work of organization
could not have been placed in better hands, and to Commander
Brock goes a large part of the credit for the outstanding
success which the Winnipeg Division has enjoyed since
Incidentally, Commander Brock served for three years
in the Imperial Navy during the War. In 1931 he was
appointed Honorary Aide-dc-Camp to His Excellency the
Within the first few months the Division was built
up to its full strength of 114 Officers and men, and.
as mentioned, since that time almost 1,000 Officers
and men have served or are still serving with the Unit,
or have been transferred to permanent employment in
the Royal Canadian Navy.
Because of the need for specialized training, and
to develop a training ship atmosphere, separate quarters
were needed to house necessary naval equipment and so
it was that the first Headquarters were established
in the old Rat Portage Lumber Company building in Norwood,
being officially opened by the then Deputy Minister
of National Defence, Mr. G. J. Desbarats, with the traditional
ceremony of "The Breaking of the Flag." The white ensign,
which is worn by all ships of His Majesty's Naval Service,
was hoisted to the masthead and then broken out, signifying
that the barracks was officially "commissioned". The
home of the Unit is the only building in Manitoba on
which the white ensign can be flown officially.
The present Headquarters are located on Gertrude Avenue
at Osborne Street. Here the Barracks are laid out like
a ship, and there is no less tradition in the "ship"
of the Unit than there is in any vessel of the Royal
Canadian Navy. Once a member sets foot on the deck for
drill and classes his whole deportment is that of a
man afloat. The Unit, which now censists of 150 Officers
and men, parades once a week for regular drill, and
citizen sailors between the ages of 18 and 26 are given
intensive instruction in gunnery, torpedo, seamanship.
signals, wireless telegraphy, rifle shooting and many
other subjects. For this purpose There will be found
naval guns, a torpedo, seamanship models, wireless and
signal equipment and many nautical instruments.
Drills at the Barracks are discontinued during the
summer months, but ratings are given instruction in
boat work on the river. Two service boats - 27-foot
Montague whalers - are used for practical instruction
in boat-pulling and the handling of service boats under
Education plays an important part in advancement from
one rating to another. In addition to examinations on
professional subjects at Headquarters, each rating is
required to pass an Educational test before he can be
considered for promotion.
Physical fitness is necessary to join the R.C.N.V.R.
and continue in the service. Each man has to pass a
complete medical examination on joining thc Reserve
and is also given a thorough checkover before leaving
for Naval Training each year. This enables him to keep
a close check on his physical well-being - a fact of
importance in Ihe individual and to the community. The
physical standard of members of the R.C.N.V.R. always
remains at a high level.
In addition to the training at Divisional Headquarters
each man is required under the terms of his enrolment
to attend Naval Training at the Royal Canadian Naval
Barracks at Esquimalt for at least two weeks each year.
Here practical instruction is given in ships of the
R.C.N. and everything is done to turn out qualified
seamen. While undergoing Naval Training at Esquimalt
the same pay and allowance is given as received by a
rating in the permanent service, the men doing practically
the same work. For a rating who can get the time off
from his civil employment, or who is unemployed, additional
time is allowed at Training Headquarters in the form
of Voluntary Service. Furthermore, each year a limited
number of ratings who have outstanding attendance records
at weekly drills, and who have superior ability, are
given an opportunity to carry out training during the
winter months in ships of the Royal Canadian Navy at
the manoeuvres held in southern waters.